Seasonal Anxiety?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Anxious woman

Seasonal anxiety?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Is there seasonal anxiety?

Officially there is no diagnosis for any seasonal disorder, but the profession does recognize that there is a form of Major Depressive Disorder that is highly influenced by the seasons. We denote this by referring to it as Major Depressive Disorder with a seasonal pattern.

Researchers on a lot of other mental and emotional illnesses are reporting that they find seasonal patterns in their disorders also, so far no one seems to be considering these seasonal influences on disorders like Anxiety.

So what other effects might the weather and the change of seasons be having on Anxiety and other disorders?

People who regularly see their doctors and have their blood pressure checked are more likely to find that they have elevated blood pressure as a result of stress in the winter months than in the summer months.

Yes, we do get stressed out more in the winter than in those lazy days of summer even when we are well into our working lives.

Women, particularly those working as supervisors and in responsible positions, report more anxiety and stress during the winter months than in the summer. They also report more physical ailments at that time of year for which no medical problem is found. Researchers are apt to call those issues “Somatic symptoms even though actual physical illnesses can’t be ruled out.

The bottom line here is, however, you see these complaints, stress, and anxiety are causing these women more problems in the winter than the rest of the year.

Anxiety disorder is worse in winter but Panic Disorder gets worse in the summer.

Several researchers into Panic Disorders have reported that panic disorder gets worse in the summer months. This appears to be related to the heat more than the hours of light.

Dehydration has been reported as a cause of this heat-related panic attack. Some people when out in public avoid drinking water because of the need to find restrooms. Don’t drink enough water and you get dehydrated which can trigger panic attacks.

One corollary to this was an article that reported more people in America are “Sunbirds” than “Snowbirds” that is more people go up north to escape the heat in the summer than go to the south in the winter to escape the snow in that northern tier of states.

There is a season to anxiety disorders and for most people, that season is throughout the winter time.

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